Sunday, October 31, 2010

Many hands make light work

Barn along Hwy 70
Yesterday I drove to Wisconsin to help my brother take out a couple of docks and boat lifts.  His father-in-law was also there, ready to help.  Thankfully, before the three of us attempted to pull out the waterfront additions we traveled across the lake on the pontoon to see if we might be able to help out another cabin with their dock removal.  Turns out the five guys at this cabin were already done and sipping beers.  They in turn offered to help us out.   Thank God.

After heading back to my brother's cabin we discovered that the boat lifts were mired in the sand.  It took all eight of us, with considerable effort, to yank them free, up and out of the water.  Many hands indeed made for lighter work, and extended back health.  Next spring we're already planning to make this a combined effort.

On the drive back home I spotted this interesting barn, recently filled with hay, featuring the shadow of a tree.  I flowed my own blog advise and stopped to take a better look ... and picture ;-) 

The picture below is from Interstate 35 on the drive home.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trails not taken

First frost brings falling maple leaves
I thought that I had put a wrap on thoughts from the trail, but realized there is still at least one more big issue I didn't address; trails not taken.  Whenever we choose to go down a trail, it means there are a multitude of others we can't go down, at least at that same time.

For me, one of the hardest things in life is saying "no" to great opportunities.  There are so many wonderful places to work, play and volunteer. Every day I've got about a weeks worth of things I would like to get done.  It can be frustrating to only have 24 hours in a day, and then out of those precious hours one has to take time out to eat and sleep!

Different life stages bring different trail choices.  High school seniors face perhaps their first really big trail decisions... what next; work/college/vocational school/university? Where one chooses to work and live, or not work and live, are also important trail decisions, that may need to be decided multiple times throughout one's life.

Whichever trail we are on, we need to take time out to recognize it and to assess whether it is still a right place for us to be.  It can be a huge distraction to spend time thinking about how great things might be down some other trail, and then not fully appreciate the trail we're on.  If we don't think we're on the right trail, it is up to us to move along to new paths.

Trail questions....

What are some trails you've made a decision not to go down?

How good are you at moving on after you've chosen not to travel down a trail?

Is there a trail you are now on that you need to get off?

What might be a trail you've passed up that could be worth revisiting?

Maple leaves by pond

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Do gooder" opportunities

A few years back after making a presentation on my work with Kinship's mentoring program to a service club an elderly gentleman asked me if I was some kind of a "do gooder".  I didn't quite know what to say, but without missing a beat the guy sitting next to him turned and asked, what are you, some kind of "do badder"?

A couple of "do gooder" opportunities to run by you.

1. Blood donation.  Here in the Twin Cities the American Red Cross and Memorial Blood Centers are taking blood for people in need. I made a donation of double red blood cells earlier this week.  While the wind was blowing fiercely outside I was relaxed in the burgundy lounge chair giving through the Alyx machine. It took about 45 minutes.  The biggest pain of the whole experience was going through the long list of questions which are asked at every visit.  Thankfully I didn't have a recent tattoo.  I was pleased to enjoy a cookie from the Cookie Cart afterwards.

2. Financial Donation.  Wilderness Inquiry is eligible a grant of $30,000 if they can get 300 new donors.  In an earlier blog posting I've got information on this great organization from a trip I took with them in September.  Their mission is to provide outdoor adventure experiences that inspire personal growth, community integration, and enhanced awareness of the environment.

Wilderness Inquiry trip to the Apostle Islands

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall reflections on the Tamarack

Fall reflections from the pond, with Tamaracks (yellow trees) in center

While hiking in the Cascade mountains I discovered they have Larch trees growing along the mountainsides. These trees turn a lovely yellow color before the needles drop. So while it is a conifer is also a deciduous tree, dropping its needles/leaves in the fall.

I didn't want to brag.... too much.... but I had to tell them we have Tamarack trees in Minnesota, which you don't need to go to the mountain to see.  Tamarack is a species of Larch, which looks great by the lake!  These pictures of the Tamarack are from Bassett Creek Park in Crystal, MN.  To the right of the Tamarack pictured above is a Weeping Willow tree and to its left is Red Twig Dogwood.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Deep, sustained and multiple relationships needed for ALL kids

Dr. Peter Benson
All of our kids are in need of deep, sustained and multiple relationships. Peter Benson, president and CEO of Search Institute wants adults to wake up to the important and critical opportunity to positively influence the next generation. While mentoring is a critical intervention, he noted that kids need a team of adults in their lives, because programs alone don't change lives, relationships do. Just a smile, calling a child by name and or sending a birthday card can make a difference in the life of a young person. Dr. Benson shared this encouragement at the statewide conference of the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota, held October 25th in St. Paul, MN.

Dr. Andrea Taylor
Dr. Andrea Taylor, Director of Training at Temple University's Intergenerational Center noted the valuable role of intergenerational relationships.  She's helped to establish "Across Ages", in 85 communities throughout the US. Across Ages works to encourage older adults, ages 50 plus, to take on the opportunity to mentor "at risk" young people.  She stressed the importance of quality mentoring programs, which utilize the Elements of Effective Practice provided by Mentor.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pictures from around Holden


Fall ferns

Curious Mule Deer on trail

Abandoned mine skelton

Autumn  colors

Full moon in motion

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Role of community along the trail

Holden Village Dining Hall
Mule Deer grazing at Holden
While I enjoyed a full day out on the trail, mostly hiking by myself, I also loved being able to come back into the village to savor a meal of homemade pizza with the rest of the villagers. Then I was able to share the tales of my hike with others and relax in the supportive community of Holden Village. How much differently I would have felt after that long hike if I had to make my own dinner, pitch a tent, and keep the joy of my journey inside.

Many of us don’t have the benefit of having a long standing home base and supportive community. The United States is a country made primarily of immigrants, many of whom are now on trails a long way from home. Modern transportation and job opportunities/requirements have lead many families to become scattered across the country and globe. It is important for us to be welcoming of strangers, fellow sojourners, just as we would want to be welcomed into a new community.

Welcoming hug
Trail questions…

Where do you go to find your community support?

How might you be welcoming to the stranger in your midst?

If you have a faith community, how is it working to be welcoming to people from other nationalities and traditions?

Holden Village birds eye view

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sharing what we’ve learned from the trail

Piano duet, with teacher and student, during Holden's Talent Show
I’ve been blessed to have many people along the way that have led me along some great trails. These include my parents, teachers, family friends and coaches. Much of my life I’ve had the luxury of simply following in the tracks of people who have gone before and set great examples. I’ve been privileged to start my journey on the trail far ahead of many others from disadvantaged environments. For example, I’m sure many of the kids in the Kinship mentoring program I worked with for so many years had never even been hiking or camping, and may be never traveled outside of the city. It was exciting to help broaden those horizons.

Indian Paintbrush
Kids growing up today have a multitude of distractions, leading every which way, many of which are destructive. For earlier generations the choice of one’s life trail may have been dictated by one’s family, race, gender and class standing. It is a blessing that the trails for young people today are much more open to all. Yet finding one’s way on the dizzying array of trails is more challenging than ever before.

Kids may or may not do what adults tell them to do, but they most always will do what they’ve seen adults doing. It is important that in addition to providing oral guidance to our children that we also intentionallly walk our trails, knowing that whatever we’re doing is being observed and serving as an example. Kids are in greater need than ever before for role models and mentors.

Young helper at Holden Village
Trail questions…

How can/do I document what I’ve learned along the trail?

How can/do I share this with others?

Who are the people in my life that I can go to that will help me get on a trail to a desirable destination?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trails yet needing to be blazed

Flower Dancing in the Wind sculpture, Chelan, Washington

Lyman Lake
Not all worthwhile destinations have trails. Some still need trail blazers to reach them.

It seems popular destinations have the most and biggest trails leading to them, which come in the form of four lane highways, and long lines. Yet isn’t the road less traveled often more rewarding?

Peace and justice issues usually require us to move in directions contrary to the popular public trails. However, as we all learned about lemmings in elementary school, sometimes groups run in mass of cliffs.

Lyman Trail
Many trails we head down we're likely never to reach the end destination. I've been down several trails which I know I won't see the end of, but are still worth the effort of traveling. I’m becoming increasingly okay with simply walking the challenging course, whether or not the destination can be reached in my lifetime. Working in the field of mentoring these many years there were always many more children than we could find mentors, but when we were able to find the right mentor for a child it often resulted in a dramatic life altering relationship for both parties.

Along with many others I've taken up the fight against the invasive species, Buckthorn, which is spreading rapidly and dominating the undergrowth of parks and forests, it even overtook the lilac hedge in my backyard. Like so many invasive species, it may not be eradicated, but we can work to contain it so that our ecological diversity isn't overly compromised.

While it’s great to have a destination, is not the real beauty of life in the journey itself, not simply the destination? I’ve had the thrill of winning a few road races in my youth and discovered how the quickly fading cheers after the race. I'm reminded by Lilly Tomlin that even if we win the rat race, we’re still rats.

Railroad Creek and Dumbell Mountain

Trail questions…

Are there some trails where you feel still need blazing?

Who are the trail blazers in life you admire?

What is it about these people you admire the most?

What are the trails you’re on that may be popular, but might not be getting you some where you really want to go?

Rainbow over Lake Clelan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rules for the trail

Lyman Glacier
I must confess to having a natural aversion to rules. However, I also know for things to work well for all, the great freedoms of the trail need to be balanced with an equal portion of responsibility. A booklet on backpacking produced by the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service provides a nice summary of balancing the freedom of backpacking with the importance of responsibility “Self-sufficient, yes, but with this freedom goes an individual responsibility to care for the environment and respect the rights of those you meet along the way and those who follow you.”
Lyman Glacier with balloon

One rule I strive to practice is to leave the trail in better shape than when I found it. It was outstanding that there was about no trace of graffiti or litter on the 20 plus mile hike to and from Upper Lyman. The one exception to this was a yellow balloon caught alongside of the Lyman Glacier. Note to self and others, not a good idea to release helium balloons.

Pair of Sooty Grouse
I was thankful not to have blaring music or visual distractions along the trail. During this time it was nice to have no cell phone or Internet coverage. One of the benefits of walking quietly came as I just about stumbled upon a Sooty Grouse directly before me on the trail. After stopping I discover a couple of its peers on a log just downhill from the trail. What a pleasant surprise!

Guidelines for back country travel provided by the US Forest Service include the following: 
Alpine trail

  1. Travel quietly; avoid clanging cups, yells and screams… However some noise will generally keep all bears away.
  2. Wear “earth colors” to lessen your visual impact, especially if you are traveling in a group. However, during hunting season a blaze orange hat and vest are advisable for your personal safety.
  3. When tracking wildlife for a photograph or closer look, stay downwind, avoid sudden movements, and never chase or charge any animal.
  4. Stay on the designated path when hiking existing trails.
  5. If you choose a route without trails, follow your contour map. Do not mark trees, build rock piles or lave messages in the dirt.
  6. Hike in groups of four to six people at most; four is the best number in areas without trails. In case of sickness or injury one person can stay with the victim while two people go for help.
  7. Pick up any litter along the route; have a small bag available for trash.
  8. Avoid removing items of interest (rocks, flowers, wood or antlers). Leave these in their natural state for others to see.
  9. Allow horses plenty of room for travel.
  10. Help preserve America’s cultural heritage by leaving archaeological an historical remains undisturbed, encourage others to do the same, and report your discoveries to the local Ranger.

Marmot aka Groundhog

Trail Questions…  

What are the most important rules for you to stay on course?

What are rules that help you to get along with your trail partners?

What are things you can do to leave the trail behind you better than it was?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tough trails and great destinations

Trail to Upper Lyman Lake
I was reminded on my long, arduous hike to Upper Lyman that most often to get to the really great destinations we need to travel along some difficult, lengthy trails.

People who have been successful in their careers, sports or hobbies often appear to be performing effortlessly. Watching the athletes in the Olympics, or members of an orchestra, it appears their outstanding performances are simple and fun. Yet we know that those seemingly effortlessness performances came as the result of years of study, practice and hard work.

Preparing me for my hike to Upper Lyman I had been actively biking and running. Years ago I used to run marathons, but over time my fitness goals have changed.  I'm now primarily focused on staying physically active so I can continue to enjoy great experiences, like the one I had on this long hike.

Lyman Lake
The trail to Upper Lyman Lake was even more glorious than I could have imagined. I felt like Julie Andrews, when she twirls and sings “The hills are alive, with the sound of music". I didn’t twirl and sing, but I did have to yell out “Cool” when I looked out from under the glacier at Upper Lyman into the surreal robin egg blue glaciated lake. The trail’s end was way cooler than I could have imagined.

View from under glacier at Upper Lyman Lake
Trail questions…

What have been difficult journeys for you that have lead to great results/destinations?

What have you had to do to prepare yourself to carry through along those tough trails?

When weren’t you prepared for the trail? What might you do differently next time?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The value of breaks and noticing the scenery along the trail

Dwarf Huckleberry
I’m working to get better at taking breaks. When I’m on the trail, I love to go steady until the destination is reached. On family trips my dad was great at getting us from point A to point B without interruption along the way, unless of course he had to stop that big blue station wagon for disciplinary reasons, which there were many ;-) .  I’m discovering that breaks can be enjoyable, valuable, and even necessary at times to keep it going over the long haul.

Swordleaf Rush by Upper Lyman Lake
Not only is it helpful to take breaks, it can also be valuable to take careful notice of the surroundings while on a hike. Knowing that I was traveling alone on a long trail that I had never been on before, I worked to be especially aware of my surroundings- forward, left, right and behind. This helped me notice the beauty of the surroundings, "Nikon Moments", and also served as a reminder of where I came from, so I could find my way home, going in the opposite direction. The trail can look much differently going away versus coming home. I’ve found this practice particularly useful when trying to relocate my car in a big parking lot.

For photographic purposes I discovered often the best shots were at the chipmunk level. This means lying down and getting a close up look at things from the ground level.

To notice beauty requires seeing detail, which in turn requires us to slow down and often stop to take notice.

Oregon grape
While it may be expedient to travel by airplane, or drive on freeways, the scenery is considerably better when we’re able to slow down and see things from a bike or a hike, canoe or kayak. Traveling to and from Holden I discovered the train provided a great chance to simply observe scenery while not having to worry about driving and keeping eyes on the road.

Trail questions…

How good are you at taking time out for breaks?

Do you take time out to look back to see from whence you came?

What are some things you can do to slow down in order to see the beauty of detail?

If you don't already, how can you build breaks into your day, week and year?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trail partners

Chris, Gerda and Noah on trail
I thought it best that I hiked alone on my big daylong track to Upper Lyman Lake and Glacier. A big reason for this was that I wanted to move swiftly along, yet often stop to take pictures. However, while taking a break on the shore of Hart Lake I noticed a threesome from Holden Village hiking along the high rocky lakeside slope. I quietly caught up with them on the trail shortly after Hart Lake. They were making their way to Cloudy Pass, but we shared a common trail for a few miles up to Lyman Lake, after which our paths diverged.

When I reached them Chris, Noah and Gerda were going at a steady, quite pace. Our silent hiking was interrupted briefly when Noah spotted a bear that rapidly ran off into the woods on the trail ahead. He offered to let someone else lead, and joking picked up a small branch as a defensive tool. We were all thankful self defense wasn’t needed.

Rest at lookout for Crown Point Falls
At the scenic lookout to Crown Point Falls we enjoyed a beak in the warm sun. What a pleasant conversation we had on that hike, with hardly a word spoken between the lot of us.

Crown Point Falls
Trail Questions…

With whom do you enjoy moving down the trail?

If you’re planning on a long hike, what are the things necessary for you and your partner to enjoy time together?

What is your hiking style; pacing, conversation, etc.?

What attributes do you look for in a partner?

What added value can you bring to time together on the trail?

View from Hart Lake, with hiking trail upper left (across rocky slope)